There are now 82 confirmed cases of coronavirus Covid-19 in Mexico after the federal Health Ministry announced 29 new cases on Monday night.
The number of new cases is the highest for any single day since the first confirmed case of the disease in Mexico was announced on February 28.
The Health Ministry also said that there are 171 suspected cases and that 579 people had tested negative for the infectious disease.
Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell told a press conference that six coronavirus patients are in hospital and that three of them are in serious condition.
Ricardo Cortés, general director of health promotion at the Health Ministry, said that 90% of the people confirmed to be infected only have mild symptoms and are recovering in isolation at home.
Among people known to have come into contact with others infected with coronavirus, only 10% have symptoms of the disease, he added.
The northern border state of Tamaulipas reported its first case of Covid-19 on Monday – a Malaysian national who works in a multinational company in Tampico. All but three states in Mexico now have confirmed or suspected cases of the disease that had infected more than 167,000 people around the world and caused 6,606 deaths as of Monday, according to the World Health Organization.
López-Gatell also said that the government’s coronavirus hotline had been “indirectly sabotaged” because rumors have circulated on social media stating that anyone with suspected symptoms of Covid-19 should call the Health Ministry’s epidemiology department. The volume of calls increased from 480 a day to 6,800 in the space of 24 hours, he said.
The deputy health minister also addressed a claim by El Salvador President Nayib Bukele that 12 people confirmed to have Covid-19 were intending to travel to San Salvador from Mexico City.
López-Gatell said that the 12 people in questions were nationals of El Salvador and had arrived in Mexico from Chicago. He said that medical personnel at the Mexico City airport confirmed that the passengers did not have any symptoms of Covid-19 nor had they been tested for the disease. Therefore, López-Gatell added, “it’s impossible to speak of confirmed cases.”
The airline Avianca nevertheless cancelled its scheduled flight between Mexico City and El Salvador and thanked Bukele on Twitter for alerting it to “the patients with Covid-19 trying to board the flight.”
Speaking at President López Obrador’s morning news conference on Tuesday, López-Gatell said that a coronavirus pandemic in Mexico could last 12 weeks or more.
“This is not going to be a short epidemic. We’ve already said it but I want to make it very clear again. We’ve said that the epidemic could last at least 12 weeks. That’s how long it lasted in China; it reached its high point about halfway through those weeks and then it started to go down, not necessarily because of the extreme containment measures that were taken,” he said.
“This would be the minimum scenario that we expect in Mexico. However, to the extent that each country has different characteristics, it could last longer – there could be small secondary upturns that prolong the need for mitigation and control measures,” the health official added.
In response to the expected widespread outbreak of Covid-19, the government announced on Saturday that Easter holidays for the nation’s school students would start on March 20, two weeks earlier than scheduled, and run until April 20.
However, unlike many other countries, federal authorities have not announced any travel bans to help fight the virus, which originated in mainland China late last year.